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Come to Think of It, You Ought to Really Read This Story Tomorrow

June 21, 1987|JANE SUTTON | United Press International

NORTH BAY VILLAGE, Fla. — March 7-13 was National Procrastination Week and the Procrastinators' Club of America is planning a banquet to celebrate. It will be scheduled for sometime this summer.

"We're a little late. But we are definitely going to plan something," said Joseph Weiss, secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia-based club.

No surprise from the group that celebrates the July 4th in January and expelled the one member who mailed his Christmas cards on time.

The club protested the War of 1812 with picketing in March, 1967. A recent issue of "Last Month's Newsletter," the club's official publication, declared the protest successful because "a treaty has now been signed."

Elections a Little Late

Philadelphia advertising executive Les Waas founded the club in 1956 and was elected president. He is still president because members are still organizing the 1957 elections.

Waas compiles an annual list of predictions on Jan. 1, for the previous year. "They are 100% accurate," said Weiss, a founding member and retired dentist who moved to Florida from Philadelphia.

"Procrastination is a great philosophy. What you worried about yesterday, by tomorrow . . . hah," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "If you put off these momentous decisions, you find they weren't so important."

Club members attended the New York's World Fair Nov. 18, 1966, nearly a year after the exhibition closed. They went to an Atlantic City track and cheered the horse that finished last, embracing the embarrassed and puzzled jockey.

They asked the National Organization for Women to change its name from "NOW" to "LATER" and recently sent a letter to President Gerald R. Ford at the White House, offering to join his Whip Inflation Now campaign. The letter came back from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue stamped: "No Longer at This Address."

Millions Almost Joined

The club has millions of members who never got around to joining, as well as 4,000 to 4,900 official members, and most are inactive, Weiss said. Although he keeps the records, he is a little fuzzy on exact membership figures.

"I just don't keep good records. Someday I'm going to get them in order," he said.

"We did have a treasury for a while," he said. "About $23. But I went to the race track and tried to double it."

The treasury will be replenished as soon as the club collects its annual $5 dues, and that will happen when Weiss gets around to sending out dues notices. He can't remember when the last dues notices went out, but he has been planning to check on that.

Members live by the motto, "It's Never Too Late to Procrastinate," and wear buttons proclaiming, "Behind You All The Way." The Escargot Chapter in Sacramento embraces the snail as its mascot.

Members-at-heart line up at the post office just before midnight April 15 to drop off their income tax returns. The ink is usually still wet.

"We love those people. We congratulate them as they drive by the post office," Weiss said. "We want them to know they are not alone."

Some Advantages

There are advantages to living life a little late, said Weiss, who managed to get his Christmas cards mailed out by April.

"It gives you the opportunity to buy Christmas cards for half-price. And we already know everybody who sent them to us."

The club honors truly outstanding procrastinators at its annual awards banquet, which it gets around to holding every two or three years. Past honorees include:

- Jack Benny, for never getting around to turning 40.

- A topless dancer, for putting things off.

- The Illinois Central Railroad, for running the latest train. It left in 1903 and hasn't arrived yet.

- Former Postmaster General Elmer T. Klassen, "for obvious reasons."

They admire road construction crews almost as much as they admire the postal service, and they "constantly applaud the people who never finished Interstate 95," Weiss said.

Weiss still has a few leisure suits and Nehru jackets in his closet, along with some 4 1/2-inch-wide paisley neckties that he never got around to throwing out. But his North Bay Village apartment is suspiciously free of accumulated clutter.

"My wife," he explained. "I would never get around to cleaning it."

Offers Moral Support

The club offers moral support for those married to chronic procrastinators. "It's like being married to an alcoholic," Weiss said.

It costs $16 to join the Procrastinators' Club of America, and applicants must submit a letter outlining their qualifications.

"A real honest-to-goodness procrastinator would never get around to joining. We do allow people to sponsor other people. So we do get some real procrastinators," Weiss said.

Members receive, eventually, a membership card, a "Procrastinate Now" bumper sticker, a calendar--usually a few years old--and a certificate bestowing rights "to arrive late, to send out Christmas cards in January, to delay payment of bills and to display this license conspicuously whenever he gets around to it."

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